UN Human Rights Rapporteur Meets NGO Leaders

NGO leaders met Thursday with Rhona Smith, the U.N.’s new special rapporteur on human rights in Cambodia, to raise concerns about human rights violations.

But Buntenh, president of the Independent Monk Network for Social Justice, said he attended the meeting at the Phnom Penh headquarters of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), where he discussed his fear that the Interior Ministry would deny voting rights to monks ahead of the 2018 national elections.

Still, he said he doubted the sway the special rapporteur wields with the government.

“I believe she can try and convince the government…but I don’t believe the recommendations are heard and considered by the government,” he said.

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, raised concerns including the recent jailing of opposition lawmakers and the restrictive provisions of the new NGO law.

Ms. Smith will meet today with Education Minister Hang Chuon Naron, according to Christine Pickering, the spokeswoman for OHCHR in Cambodia.

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